Facebook really hit the mainstream consciousness about 1-2 years ago, depending on who you ask. That’s about the time that its value as a social network really started plummeting for me. Each day I get bombarded with friend requests, many from people that I don’t know or have never even heard of. Don’t even get me started on fan pages and apps. I realize that everyone has different goals and reasons for using Facebook. Maybe you really do want to see the firehose of constant inane status updates from people you don’t know.
If you’ve been using Facebook since the beginning then you’re more likely see it becoming increasingly meaningless, which is a sad, but predictable, evolution. Back when Facebook was new it was actually exciting to check your stream and see what was happening because the friends that you had were people that you actually wanted to keep in touch with. 20 Facebook friends in 2005 is worth about 250 Facebook friends today.
Personally, it feels like my Facebook stream is becoming an email inbox. I get a lot of messages, a few of them matter to me, and there are lots of business newsletters and promotions. Facebook apps (that I don’t even use) that clutter my stream are just spam. Maybe Facebook is becoming email 2.0?
All of these issues have led me to think about better ways to utilize social networks. Facebook has tried to solve the problem of overfriending with Facebook Groups, but that wasn’t helpful. It’s a lot of work to go through and manually add people to different lists, groups, or whatever the term is at the moment. Other social networks, like Path, are devoted to reinforcing relationships between much smaller groups of people. I think that there is room for a social network that solves these problems and makes social networking fun again.
For the record, I don’t consider Twitter to be part of this conversation. I actually agree with Twitter that they are not a social network.
Do you still find Facebook useful? What would you change to bring it back to form?